Thursday, December 11, 2014


After having lived with solar panels (as well as a wind generator) on my sailboat down in the Caribbean islands, I know solar energy is a wonderful thing! Bright sunny days gave me lots of power from my 3 little panels (75 watts each, small by today's standards). With the tradewinds, the wind generator took up the slack and I had a nice bank of T105 Trojan golf cart batteries for storage. As long as it was breezy and bright, I was fine!

People who have been living on land have not embraced solar or wind generation the way travelers have, including some RVers. I was in west Texas before I saw those giant wind generators, multiple generators in a large field. New Mexico had some wind generators and I also saw some large solar arrays.

Now that I'm in Arizona, I have seen many areas with hundred of solar panels set up facing the strong sun. This southwest weather is perfect for solar since most days seem totally cloudless. I have yet to see any wind generators here, but I'll be looking.

Today I saw the most amazing array of solar power gathering equipment. The giant panels I saw today didn't even look like regular solar panels, they looked like curved mirrors. When I first saw them, they looked like the photo above, facing the morning sun. The entire complex was fenced in with 6 foot chain link fences topped by rows of barbed wire. When I drove by a few hours later, they had been tilted facing directly overhead to get the full benefit of the sun. The rows of panels seemed to go right to the mountain at the horizon.


I stopped at the security gate and found out that construction on this started in 2010 and was not completed until last year. The guard I talked to had no idea of the cost of the project. The complex covers over 6 square miles and produces 280 megawatts, most of it going to Arizona Power. I did a quick search and found out that California is starting construction on the same type of system. This is a seriously impressive system.


I'd like to get some for my 5th wheel, but installed flat on the roof is not the most efficient way.  One of my boondocking neighbors had 3 that he set out and they traveled in a nice box on the back that he built himself.  I'm still thinking about it.

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